Graphics

In my whole career, I have yet to meet a designer who can make what I visualise. I have also yet to meet a designer who completes all the screens using just an initial brief.

I have met but one designer who is really into his work and tries to break patterns. Pity, the work I had for him had set wireframes and he couldn’t put much of his expertise into the visual designs as the client had very strict guidelines for the screens.

The heart of an IT company lies in its design team – the conceptualisers, the wireframers and the visual designers. A potential client will judge you first from your website (developed by your team) and then the thumbnails on your app portfolio and then (if at all) will download and use one of the apps to get a feel of your coding expertise.

Your designs should be perfect in colour combination, layout of the action items and informative items and most of all – should be self-explanatory to a new user. Do you know of such a visual designer? Please connect him/her to The Mavericks!

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Failures

Project failures are a part of a company.

Many times apps are rejected by App Stores. At other times, they fail to reach completion. The apps that reach the store can also fail – they are not accepted by the target users.

When I started development, the first 9 of my apps met the above fate. At times like these, you have to do a little soul searching to determine if you have given your best. If you have, bury the apps or revive the dead code – according to your client’s wish and move ahead.

Digesting failures and owning up to your planning mistakes or if the client is not responsive enough, stating that straight forward goes a long way into healing your taxed brain and heart – both of which are very essential to function daily as a developer or a project manager.

As they do post match in cricket, it is very necessary to make a draft of how you and the team handled the project – the goods, the bads and the uglies – regardless of the failure or success of the project. There are always part failures even in a successful project – internal (unknown to client) or external (known to client) – write them down as lessons for the next time.F

Eccentricity

An eccentric person is often called a maverick. Eccentricity, in the creative sense, is welcome at The Mavericks.

Startups have started differentiating themselves from traditional firms with quirky names, unconventional office decor, informal clothes at work. If you have seen The Intern, you will know what I mean. That kind of eccentricity is external.

What we need is internal eccentricity.

You adhere to Apple Guidelines, but come up with a never-seen-before navigation menu idea. You write a concise competitive analysis, focusing on the parameter which has never been noticed before. You write code comments in verses (this is not always welcome…but if your code is going to be passed on to an individual of the same bent, then you might find resonance).

Break the norms while doing a certain task. This keeps the brain less burdened with rituals. Avoid templatizing your documents as far as possible. Mostly you are bound to work with templates, but add some parts unique to the project at hand. More often than not, this will keep your templates constantly evolving.

Be eccentric. Be a Maverick. There’s nothing wrong with good eccentricity!

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Decorum

A hilarious incident happened when I had completed over a year of working in a newly formed startup. A trainee HR joined our team. We never had a formal HR before that. The day after she joined, she was sitting at her desk. Four of us, relatively senior members of the team, had gathered at 11-ish am near the water-cooler. The tall frail HR walked to us and sshed us saying we need to maintain discipline and go back to our desks. We looked at each other – at a total loss whether to guffaw as we really felt or to take it in our stride and humour her for the time being. At last, we went to our desks and the next day, she was explained politely by the management that this is not a school.

It was not her fault really. The newbie did not know that we put in hours of hard work without looking at the watch 24 x 7. We deserved a few minutes off at the water-cooler now and then.

Decorum, meaning behaviour in keeping with good taste and propriety, has different implications in different settings. It is also very closely linked to discipline – the more stricter form of decorum.

In a virtual company like The Mavericks, decorum implies putting in the required amount of hours of work, maintaining basic propriety on social media posts which are public, respecting the organisational hierarchy and engaging the client with full attention. Other than that music during work hours, exchanging views across desks and friendly banter at water-coolers is completely okay. As the employees will be working from their home, half of this is not possible anyway!

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Yes, the tool.

Big companies have equally fancy CRMs. As a startup, I have not thought of a CRM tool yet. As it is, I find them too complicated. A Google spreadsheet works best for me.

However, customer relationship management is much more than just a tool. When the startup is young, the founders have one-to-one contact with the client. As the sales staff increases, each sales person has his own accounts and prospects. Maintaining a common log is very essential then. There is also a slight apprehension amongst team members about the other team member ‘poaching’ his client. It must be understood and stressed that the client belongs to the company, not the sales person.

The company should also take efforts in maintaining communication apart from the sales person/account manager, by staying in touch on important dates as well as delivering the best product in the market. This ensures that client transition does not happen if one of the sales person chooses to switch companies.

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